Tag Archives: BSA

Proud Mom of an Eagle Scout


I remember the first time he donned the blue uniform of a cub scout.

He was eight years old and strutted into the church building proudly wearing the uniform of the Boy Scouts of America. The next ten years were filled with campouts, high adventure, summer scout camp and weekly gatherings, as Rusty worked to fill his sash with merit badges.

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Scouting became a source of growth and place of friendships as hours were poured into this “extracurricular activity” that was so much more than an extracurricular activity. Unlike the many good activities there are for our children to be a part of, this activity was more than a babysitting service or a social outlet. Under the leadership of great men, Rusty grew into a great man. He learned skills far more valuable than fire building or rafting. It was while he was fire building and rafting he learned how to lift others, problem solve, be a team player, lead, stand for what is right, honor his country, and be a man of character.

Scouting grew my boy into a man that any mother would be proud of. He has learned valuable life skills and developed the character strengths spoken of in the Boy Scout law as he lives the Boy Scout oath:


It was his goal to earn his Eagle. This is an achievement only earned by 4% of Boy Scouts worldwide. It is an honor that requires a high level of commitment, dedication, time, effort and drive.

“Periodically, we read about a young man becoming an Eagle Scout and we know we should be impressed – but why?

If you have never journeyed through the life of a BSA Boy Scout you most likely only have a general idea of what is required to earn the coveted Eagle Scout Award. Furthermore, you are not versed in the detailed intricacies, and at times, the all-consuming day-to-day Boy Scout experience. A young man does not become an Eagle Scout within a few months; it takes years.

Advancement through the seven required ranks of Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle is not something one can teach in a short amount of time.

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Each rank is broken down into increments requiring the scout to master the skills of personal care and safety for one’s self, indoor sustainability, outdoor survival, and the ability to work with others; whether as a team or as their leader. Until the scout displays proficiency for what is required within each rank he is not able to advance.

The 21 required merit badges – 13 Eagle specific – are also challenging. Have you ever hiked 20 miles, listed the six functions of government as noted in the Preamble to the Constitution, or made a timeline of the history of environmental science in America? The Eagle Scout has. He had to accomplish tasks and learn large amounts of information to complete his Eagle required merit badges. These badges cover the spectrum of physical fitness – within the individual’s capabilities – to knowledge necessary for any college bound student.

Extensive service hours and service projects, along with living by the Scout Law: Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, reverent….

And hungry!

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This is the life of a Boy Scout.

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So, the next time you read of a boy who has just received their Eagle Scout Award – be impressed. This award was not handed to him, he earned it. It will not be one of those items packed away with the other trophies of his youth, but instead will be displayed in his daily actions and its quintessence will forever live in his heart.”

Chicago Tribune

While it is an elusive honor overall, Rusty has been blessed to have the example of many Eagle Scouts in his life, including his father, which only increased his drive to work to earn this rank himself.

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That desire, coupled with fantastic Scout leaders who have been a driving force in helping many young men earn this honor, led to the big day when Rusty and two of his fellow troop members received their Eagles.

This occurred the Saturday before Christmas. Despite being fully immersed in Christmas mode, the mothers of the other two Eagle Scouts (Bobby and Nate) and I met at the church to decorate for the ceremony.

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We collaborated our efforts, gathered our scouting decor, and transformed the gym into a venue reflective of the Scouting program,

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And one that honored these three boys and all their hard work!

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That evening we returned to the church to watch as the boys in the troop received dozens and dozens of merit badges earned over the course of the previous six months. It was hugely impressive and a testament to some amazing scout leaders and some hard working young men!

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When all the merit badges had been handed out it was time for the three boys receiving their Eagle to step forward and take center stage.

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Each boy shared with the room the details of their personal Eagle Scout project.

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One of the final steps in earning the rank of Eagle comes when the scout develops and executes a plan to lead a service project that will benefit  the community. This large project is the culmination of a lot of behind-the-scenes planning, prepping and presenting the planned project to gain approval for their proposed Eagle Scout project.

Rusty’s Eagle Scout project was to build an outdoor riding area for Ready Yourself Youth Ranch, a non profit organization that pairs recued horses with special needs children through a therapeutic riding program. His project took the troop two long days of back breaking work but was a great blessing to that non-profit organization that could now increase the amount of sessions that could be offered each week.

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This project was completed a year ago but Rusty still had two Eagle-required merit badges that had to be earned for him to meet all his requirements. Rusty earned those with his troop this fall and was able to stand before family and friends on December 22nd to receive his award.

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Among those there to celebrate his achievement were his fellow Eagle Scouts, leaders, troop members and their families, Grace and Molly and Mimi Joy.

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The parents of the Eagle Scouts were then called to the front.

As part of the ceremony each Eagle Scout is given three pins, in addition to the medallion that is placed on their breast pocket and handkerchief that is tied around their shoulders.

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These three pins are pinned by the Eagle Scout on the lapel of the mother, the father and a person they consider a mentor,

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As a way of acknowledging the loving support that assisted them as they worked toward the goal of Eagle.

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Rusty chose to gift his mentor pin to Pete Grundberg, a man who has had an incredible influence on Rusty, both as a scout and as a young man. Pete’s dedication to troop 558, and his never ceasing effort to mold these young men, has led to many scouts earning the rank of Eagle. His influence has been great and it was a joy watching Rusty honor Pete as his mentor.

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He definitely deserves the recognition!

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Pete is one of many men who have been influential in Rusty’s scouting journey. It takes a tribe to raise a scout and how grateful I am for this amazing tribe of leaders and young men that are troop 558.


It has been an amazing ride with an epic conclusion!

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Congratulations to our newest Eagle Scouts! We are so proud of your achievement!

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Smooth Sailing- Back on Land


On Wednesday Rusty and his Boy Scout troop headed in from the open sea back to Sea Base, marking the end of their adventure on the water…

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 But not the end of their Florida fun.

They still had a few days left of their Scouting high adventure and there was much fun to still be had. It was just going to take place on solid ground for the next 3 days, instead of the high seas.


On Wednesday morning the scouts were up early and began cooking breakfast as the sailboat made its way toward land. They arrived at port and proceeded to get their assignments from the captain. Some headed onto shore to get the carts needed for transporting their personal belongings and other gear from the boat to the Sea Base dorm.


The tasks for unloading, cleaning and prepping the boat for the next week’s crew were split between the members of the troop, with some cleaning and returning the snorkel gear, while others began the task of washing down the boat.

Using special soap that was environmentally safe they scrubbed the outside of the boat washing away the signs that eight scouts/leaders had occupied it for a week.

While engaged in this chore some local wildlife stopped by to say hello. A large sea cow arrived boat side, lured in by the activity occurring around the boat. Evidently manatees are drawn to the splash of fresh water, a treat that must be limited because of the negative affect it has on their buoyancy if they consume too much of it.


The boys and leaders had a wonderful time meeting and greeting this large lady up close and snapping some awesome photos.


After they were done cleaning up and clearing out everyone had some free time to shower, rest, and do a little shopping at the Sea Base store.


After lunch there was paddle boarding and kayaking for the scouts and their leaders in the bay. After some instruction they headed out to a small mangrove island ¼ mile away from the beach.


The wind was blowing hard which made the trip out to the island easy but the trip back extra tough. Fighting the wind and waves led some to abandon their standing positions and lay down on their bellies to paddle back in.


At 5:00 pm they congregated at the flag pole with two other troops that had just arrived, where they went over announcements and recited the Sea Base Grace:


Bless the creatures of the sea.

Bless this person I call me.

Bless the Keys, you make so grand.

Bless the sun that warms the land.

Bless the Fellowship we feel,

As we gather for this meal.



The two other troops headed to dinner while our troop walked over to the volleyball court for some Sea Base planned activities.

They played volleyball,

Polynesian tug of war,

And Poison Barrel.


A limbo competition opened the door to the luau themed dinner that was their final meal at Sea Base.


This special luau dinner on the beach is the traditional conclusion to every Sea Base adventure and a perfect way to end a magical week.


The setting was spectacular, and the meal was too.


My boys raved about their feast of Mahi Mahi, rice, Hawaiian rolls, crab cakes, corn, chicken wings, and key lime pie.


With stomachs full and eyelids heavy the troops headed back to the dorms for a good night sleep before the following day’s adventure with alligators.

Stay tuned!

Smooth Sailing- Part 2



It has been a week now since the boys rolled back into town after their road trip/ sea trip adventure. As the days pass more and more stories of heroism, shenanigans, and the thrill of everyday chores when living on the high seas are shared. I continue to relish in the stories that are being revealed as time passes and have been jotting down notes so as to try and do a decent job retelling their story of adventure…a tough task when the writer wasn’t there to experience it herself.


Their time on the high seas quickly settled into a routine of sorts. Their days typically began around 6 or 7 am, when everyone rolled from their sleeping bags to begin their day.


Just like at home their day was filled with trivial tasks like teeth brushing:



And food preparation:123_1519962637018


Typical tasks that take on an atypical slant when done in the unusual confines of a sailboat.


Breakfast varied day to day but was typically a hot meal of some sort, prepared by the scouts with the assistance of Keith who graciously pitched in as sous chef.



Lunch occurred during the busier part of their day and as a result was usually a grab and go meal like sandwiches or snacks.

Dinner was another hot meal, prepared after the events of the day. As the sun set and the cabin darkened the addition of head lamps helped the scouts get dinner on the table.


Their meals were largely built around the pantry items they stocked at the start of the trip with the addition of seafood caught through the day.



Much fishing occurred each day and the troop was able to enjoy the fruits of their labor, feasting on meals of Jack Crevalle, Grunt, and lobster.




Yes, you read that right.

While we were home eating spaghetti and grilled cheese the scouts were feasting on fresh lobster.

Their captain explained that scattered through the waters of the Florida Keys are hundreds of lobster traps, many of which are ghost traps. Ghost traps are lobster traps that  have lost their distinctive buoy that brands that trap as belonging to a particular fisherman. After the most recent hurricane many lobster traps lost their markers and are now considered ghost traps; unclaimed by any fisherman, sitting on the ocean floor, catching and not releasing the lobsters within. The boys found a few of these ghost traps during their sailing adventure.


If ghost traps couldn’t be found in the waters nearby there was always the means of catching lobster with nets and a tickle stick. The boys would snorkel down to a hole in the rocks and prod the hole with a stick while positioning a net at the entrance of the hole. If it was the hiding place of a lobster they would come scuttling out, right into the net.


The caught lobster then had to be measured to ensure its maturity and if it was big enough it would end up in the supper pot.


Only on a Sea Base adventure do teenage boys add fresh lobster to their Kraft macaroni and cheese and call it dinner.


I was a tad jealous when I saw the pictures!


It seemed their days revolved around meals and sailing. The task of sailing their 44-foot sailboat fell mainly on the Boy Scout’s shoulders. They had an experienced captain to teach them the ropes and guide them along, but aside from the guidance they received from the captain 90% of the tasks were performed by the boys while the men sat back and enjoyed the ride.


As Crew Chief Rusty was given the responsibility of managing and assigning tasks, something far outside his comfort zone. He later confessed that he found himself often choosing to do the necessary tasks rather than assign jobs to others because it was more within his comfort zone. I see this is an area where we could use some work, but I can’t blame him. I am much the same way. I would rather be a hard-working Indian than a chief any day of the week.

Luckily, he was blessed with an awesome crew of guys who were more than willing to take on any task assigned to them. It was really a great group of boys and leaders.



Following a predetermined route, troop 558 made their way from Sea Base out into the ocean and onto Marathon Keys, their stop halfway through the trip. To leave the bay they had to pass under a drawbridge. With a mast reaching 40 feet in the air their boat didn’t fit under the bridge, so they had to wait for the scheduled hourly draw that lifted the bridge up into the sky and allowed the tall sailboats to pass underneath.

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As they sailed they had the opportunity to stop and snorkel at reefs along the way. The experience was neat and they saw some awesome sea life. Their only regret was that they sailed during a week of high winds which resulted in big waves and silty water. Which made swimming and snorkeling a bit of a challenge.


On Monday they arrived at Marathon Keys. They were scheduled to dock there for the night, fill the water tank, shower, restock supplies, and perform the service project that they were assigned by Sea Base, which was cleaning the restrooms and bath house.


Tuesday morning, they were back on the water and on the second leg of the trip taking them back toward Sea Base.


During the day, while they sailed from snorkel sight to snorkel sight,


most of the troop congregated in the cockpit around the scout who was at the wheel. This became the “living room” of their home away from home as they sat and chatted while sailing along.



Some would use the travel time to troll for fish.


While on the water they were privy to many wondrous sights including dolphin, barracuda, eel, puffer fish, sea turtles, and one shark sighting…



Not to mention the spectacular sunrises and sunsets that would bookend their days.



 Each night the sun would start sinking beneath the horizon around 6:00 pm and by 8:00 pm these weary scouts and their leaders were tucked in sleeping bags and falling asleep to the rocking of the waves.


Now that’s the life!


Klondike Derby


While Ozzie was home this past weekend, and we were enjoying some fun by the warmth of the fireplace, the other boys and Toby were braving the cold at the Klondike Derby.

“A Klondike derby is an annual event held by some Boy Scouts of America and Scouts Canada districts during the winter months and is based on the heritage of the Klondike Gold Rush. BSA units have been running Klondike derbies since 1949.

The event varies by district, but the typical Klondike derby consists of several stations where patrols/units must test their Scoutcraft skills and their leadership abilities, earning points towards a total score. Often, one or more races are included while the Scouts navigate between stations.

The unit must transport their gear on a homemade sled pulled by the Scouts.”

This winter camporee rolls around every February, and while it is a huge hit with the 11 and 12 years old’s I have found enthusiasm for camping in freezing temperatures seems to decrease incrementally with an increase in the age of the scout. By the time the campers reach their 40’s and 50’s there is nothing but sheer determination and a heavy helping of fatherly guilt driving them to forgo their warm beds and sleep outside in freezing February weather.

Toby goes each year and while he loves camping, winter camping is not his favorite way to camp. I think he would enjoy the Winter Camporee a bit more if it was held in April or October, but he is a good sport (and a great Dad) so he continues to show up for this frigid tradition year after year.

This year was Tyler’s first year to attend officially as an 11-year-old scout. He was very excited. On Friday he helped Rusty cross off the items on their packing list while I whipped up three foil dinners for them to cook over the campfire later that night.


I was headed down to Pittsburgh to pick up Ozzie when Toby got home, and they headed out, so I didn’t have a chance to wish them well. They arrived at camp by 5:30 pm, set up, and started their fire.


Friday night was spent getting settled, starting a fire to cook on, cooking foil dinners, and playing in the snow. The boys had snowball fights and built a snowman, only to light its “hair” on fire in an attempt to melt it…such a Boy Scout thing to do. 😊


When night came Rusty slept in one shelter with the other boys in his scout troop while Tyler camped with Toby in the leader’s tent.


Toby said Tyler did well and aside from waking up around 3:00 am because of the cold, he survived his first Winter Camporee with flying colors.

The real action happened on Saturday when the scouts met up with other troops to compete in a series of skill building challenges. Our troop did really well, as they always seem to at these activities.


The challenges included the Klondike sled race,


Fire building competitions,


And two-man saw races.


For their next big scouting adventure Toby and Rusty will be heading south. This Boy Scout adventure promises to be much warmer and a tad more thrilling than the Winter Camporee. They will be headed to the Florida Keys for a 7-day sailing adventure.

It sounds incredible and is the payoff of all the hours Toby has invested in the less glamourous scouting adventures he has helped with over the years.

It will be an adventure of a lifetime and I am thrilled Toby and Rusty get to embark on it together!

Boy Scout Klondike Derby


“A Klondike derby is an annual event held by some Boy Scouts of America districts during the winter months and is based on the heritage of the Klondike Gold Rush BSA units have been running Klondike derbies since 1949.

The event varies by district, but the typical Klondike derby consists of several stations where patrols/units must test their Scoutcraft skills and their leadership abilities, earning points towards a total score.”

This weekend was the Klondike Derby for the Boy Scouts in our area. Rusty’s troop was one of the troops participating in this fun overnight campout and competition. Toby joined Rusty, one other leader, and a few more scouts in representing our troop.


The Derby was held at Camp Baker, a scout camp about twenty minutes from our home.

It was a cold night and I fell even more in love with my husband as he set aside his own desires and the warmth and comfort of his own bed to camp outside with a bunch of scouts on a cold Friday in January. He is a GOOD man!


Despite the cold temperatures the boys had a blast. Our troop was only participating for half the events because of another church actity on Saturday night.

The competed with the other troops in orienteering, knot tying, the two person saw race:


Fire starting (Their team won that event!):


and even competed in the Klondike Sled race despite not having their sled. The sled was not brought over because they thought that event was happening after they had to leave, so when the discovered that they would be there for the event, rather than sit it out, they improvised with a human sled.


One scout was the sled, one was the pusher, one was the puller, and one was the rider.


They didn’t win but they made some fun memories!

Rusty arrived home eager to tell me about his Klondike adventures and then it was on the road again for the next big activity for the weekend: Ice Skating!